Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013

   2013 has been an interesting year, and quite successful for my shop. I made a greater amount of money and number of sales than I had ever expected, and I've had some exciting sales.
   I hit the front page fewer times than last year, but for once, one of those front page hits actually resulted in a sale - four, in fact.
   I had a spot in a shop in Tokyo that sold a few of my pieces, which was very exciting, and I currently have a shop in London doing the same but on a larger scale. Due to my increased confidence in my business, thanks to these opportunities, I'm reaching out to other shops in the UK to see if they're interested in stocking my items for a short period of time.
   I had a large purchase from a celebrity, which was also very exciting, though by no means my most exciting sale.

   I had some wonderful commissioned items to make, my favourite of which was to recreate a group of three rats which belonged to the girlfriend of the customer, and they were wonderful to make as I love the creatures. Rats are given such a poor reputation, but they are extremely clean and loving animals - they're like little dogs! Unlike hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits and so on, rats will very quickly grow to love and trust you. They usually sleep where you can see them rather than hiding away, and they rush to the side of their cage when you walk by to see you, whether you're their owner or a stranger, unless of course they're asleep. They're also less likely to bite you. I trust rats more than I trust guinea pigs, rabbits or hamsters, all of which I've had.

   Personally, I made great headway with weightloss and I understand the human body a lot more than I used to, and I've also come to realise the very basic fact that only eating properly and keeping active will cause you to lose weight. Despite having suspected it from the beginning and before I tried any, supplements will not help very much, regardless of what companies or their 'customers' will tell you. Some may actually do a little to help, but they're more likely to make you ill than truly help. There is no quick fix, but by truly being aware of what or when you're eating, and keeping as active as you can, but also resting appropriately, you can speed the process. The more rubbish you eat, and the less active you are, the slower the process will be - it really is that simple. And it's taken me a long time to realise that.
   I've not done incredible work with my writing, but I've been trying and I'm gradually getting there with my current book. I've been very busy with my WoW crafting challenge, my blogs, my shops, being a carer and exercising a lot that some things just get pushed to the back burner whether I want them to be or not. I'm still 100% that writing is what I want to do with my life, but I also know that I'd be happy enough to work on stories and concepts for games and films. Not necessarily completely content, but as long as I'm being payed to exercise my passion for fantasy and my creativity, I could live with it.
   My blog has done well and I feel like I'm finally beginning to step out on my own. I find it hard to come up with new content, but I've been doing my best. There aren't enough hours in the day to accomplish everything I want to so each thing I do takes more time than I want it to for that reason. But I'm feeling positive about it, and while I'd like new readers and a broader reach, I feel that I have quality readers and that's definitely what counts. I don't hide who I am, and though there are some things and view points I'd like to express, I know that they're likely to upset people, and there's really no need to say them, so I know when to hold back.

   All in all, 2013 hasn't been too bad. There have been highs and lows, but across 365 days, there will be. What's important is to remember in those low times that things will get better, and during the high times that you should keep your head, and in neither situation should you make rash decisions. I hope that 2014 doesn't see any lower moments than 2013, for everyone.

   Are you satisfied with what you've accomplished during 2013? What did you achieve? What did you fail to achieve? What do you regret doing or not doing?



The 9th of January

   I'm going to admit something silly now. It's my birthday on the 9th, and I'm afraid of it. I'm not afraid of growing older (not entirely), but rather being forgotten.
   Last year, on my 22nd birthday, I was forgotten by a few important people. My sister, my cousin, and my best friends forgot about my birthday. There were no cards, no birthday wishes, no phone calls, nothing. It hurt so much, and I'm afraid that it will happen again this year.
   I was surprised at my sister, though I don't know why. She never comes over to the house unless she wants something from one of us, and that's almost always money. She sent me a message on Facebook on my birthday saying she was sorry, she forgot it was my birthday, and she wasn't going to come round to the house to see me because she didn't want to come without a present. Fair enough, I understand that logic, and in truth I'm not on the best of terms with my sister anyway, but I do love her and I am there for her when she needs me emotionally whether I'm in the mood or not, because I know what shits her friends are. And I know I wouldn't want to turn up empty-handed to someone's house on their birthday. So I sent a message back saying not to worry. Okay, so my sister forgot my birthday, but whatever, she has a lot of her own stuff to deal with so I let it slide.
   She came in the next day, empty-handed, asking my dad for money. I never did get a gift or a card, and she never gave any mention of my birthday whatsoever. I, of course, didn't ask for gifts or cards because you just can't do that, and it's not what I was upset about anyway. While I am a material person, gifts aren't that important to me really, especially when the individuals in question have no money to buy gifts anyway. I was upset because my own sister forgot my birthday.
   A few days later, my cousin sent me a message apologising for having forgotten, and gave me belated wishes. My cousin and I were on good terms, and were quite close just a couple of years ago, but we drifted apart when Seeg moved in with me because I wasn't online talking to people anymore, since the person I was online for was next to me. I've tried sending her messages since but a conversation rarely comes of it, no matter how hard I try. But fine, she has her girlfriend so I know she's busy with relationship stuff just like I am. Still, it hurt that she forgot as well as my sister.
   Then there were my friends. I don't have many friends - in fact, I have just two people I can class as my friends that I know in real life and are outside of my house. Everyone else are either relatives I never see, or genuine strangers. Both of them forgot (or seemed to, I'll get to that). I didn't get messages, no cards, nothing, and that hurt more than anything. It really did. I was in tears because I felt abandoned. Yes, my parents and my boyfriend, the most important people in my life, remembered, and that counts for a lot, but they also had no choice since I was bouncing off the walls for the entire week before hand. Even my best internet friend up in not so sunny Scotland remembered, which felt lovely. But the fact that my friends, who I've known and loved since I was 4 years old, my sister and my cousin, all people I considered to be close with, forgot about my birthday really hurt.


   Of course, I conceed that my dear friend Lucy did turn up on my doorstep out of nowhere a few days later. I appreciated her coming round so much, and it made me feel a lot better, but I still felt forgotten by everyone else.
   If it had just been my sister, or just been my cousin, I could have forgotten about it and it wouldn't have bothered me, but the fact that it was both of them plus one of my two friends did hurt, and they didn't make much of an attempt to correct it afterwards. Lucy's arrival made me so happy and it really made me feel better, but I'm still really worried about being forgotten again this year. I'm so out of touch with the world around me, I never leave the house, or very rarely at any rate, and I never see my friends or family, and I'm so worried about being forgotten. I have my boyfriend to talk to, and I admit that I'm not bored at home or anything, but the thought that people who I deem important in my life could forget me is a saddening thought. And I suppose I'm writing this post as some kind of passive and pitiful plea to those people who forgot last year not to forget me this year, though I know that not one of them will see it because none of them read my blog. But, at the end of the day, it helps to get it out there, right? Maybe last year was an unfortunate one-off and it'll be better this year, I don't know. But I do know that I am a little afraid of my birthday this year, even though birthdays are not really any more important than any other day, but it is the one day a year each person has that they can expect a little bit of effort from other people (but that doesn't mean that they should sit back and do nothing).

   I'll stop whining now. It's possible that it's also just post-Christmas blues, I don't know.



Monday, 30 December 2013

Christmas 2013

   Christmas this year was lovely. For once I didn't start to stress about things (at least, not as much as I used to), and I was able to enjoy it. My gifts were dominated by Chocolate, as they always are, because no one really knows what to get me, but what I did get was pretty amazing.


   From Seeg, I got a copy of BBC's Africa which I've wanted for a long time. I only managed to catch 2 episodes when it was on the TV, so it's nice to have the whole lot now. He also got me Pokemon X - I had bought him Pokemon Y for Christmas myself, but he had grown very, very bored because no new games had been out for months and he spent a lot of his time sitting and staring into space, and I could see how bored he was. I ended up giving it to him early, and that eventually led to me finally buying a 3DS of my own, and him buying me the alternative copy of Pokemon so we can play together ^^ I had my 3DS around the beginning of December I think, late November maybe, and since then we've been playing Pokemon Pearl and Diamond together and it's been real fun.
   He also gave me another World of Warcraft book - honestly, these days, I find them more exciting than the game, but it's at that point in the expansion now where there's no new content for a while and we're all really just waiting for the next expansion to come along. This book is interesting because it's about the very, very, very beginning of the Dragon Aspects, who were granted powers and responsibilities by the Titans who were responsible for most of the life on the planet. I'm quite excited to read it!
   My dad got me the entire boxset of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I used to watch it when I was little with my dad, and I enjoyed it, but I honestly barely remember it. This is my favourite series out of the three. I absolutely hate Shatner, at least in Star Trek, and while Trekkies will tell you you can't be a fan if you hate the original (in fact a lot of people say that about a lot of things), I call bullshit. I'm sorry, I can't be a fan of something because one of the actors gets on my nerves? If anything, it makes me a better fan because I'm not blindly following suit and 'liking' something I don't truly enjoy. I started watching it a few days ago and I've plowed through season 1 so far. I absolutely love it.
   He also got me a dragon statue. He got me one last year too, the same size, but it wasn't the one he had originally wanted to get me, this one was. I quite like it, but I do prefer the first one he got me, this one is perhaps a little too human in its pose, while the other, not shown, is more beastial. It all depends, really, on what you want from dragons.
   He also got me the Dinosaur Hunters book, about the original discovery of Dinosaurs and so on and so forth. It's quite interesting ^^
   My sister got Seeg and I a joint gift of the Legend of Korra, the second series of Avatar. First there was the Legend of Aang, the Last Air Bender, and there were 3 'books' or seasons. This is the second series, set about...well, a lifetime later after Aang has died, and I believe there are going to be 4 'books' but so far only the first book is available on DVD, and I think the second season is either under construction or being aired currently. I don't know, I don't have Nickelodeon. I'll be honest, too, three episodes in and I'm not fond of it. The simplicity of life that was in The Last Airbender just isn't present here, everyone's united which has done away with culture and traditions, and instead everyone's living, at least in Republic City, in a sort of 1950's American gangster kind of place, and it doesn't fit bending at all. But, it is still good. Just not what I had hoped or expected.
   Seeg's parents blew me away with a WETA replica of Radagast's staff - the staff is made from the same mould that the original staff used in the movie was. It's the same size, same weight, everything about it is the same. WETA are responsible for props and such in the Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Halo and other things (though I'm only really interested in Middle Earth). You may recognise it from my unrealistic wishlist. It's also taller than it appears in the image, I had to lean it at a considerable angle to keep it in the picture.

   The gifts I gave this year were pretty poor really. I had no idea what to buy people. Dad ended up with a couple of books, mum with a cardigan, my sister with a jumper she asked for, Seeg's parents with a book and shawl, and Seeg himself ended up with a mouse mat from The Arty Gamer on Etsy, a copy of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds because I had to replace Pokemon with something, and a copy of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug; Chronicles, Art and Design, which would have been a great gift if we had seen the film yet, but instead it's just full of spoilers! It's been signed by 4 people who worked on the film, though, so that's quite cool.
   Fortunately, despite how bad his Christmas presents were, his birthday gifts were better. I got him a PS4, which he loved, he's the first of his friends to get a next-gen console (though that also means he has no friends to play with yet), a copy of Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag, which you saw in this post here: Box of Bloodied Water; an Assassin's Creed t-shirt featuring Edward Kenway, and a copy of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey; Chronicles, Art and Design, which is the same as the one he had for Christmas, but instead it's based on the first film, and so contains no spoilers at all, and we both really enjoyed looking through it. When we see the second Hobbit film this weekend (hopefully), we can finally look through the second book.

   It was a lovely, fat Christmas - just the kind I love - with few but awesome presents, and tolerable visits from family. It could have been worse. Of course, then on Boxing Day my dad managed to injure his back, so we've been helping look after mum much more than usual to keep him from making it worse. He won't ask for help, though, so we have to impose it. There's a point where pride becomes idiocy.

   How were your Christmasses? What was your best give and your best get? ♥



Sunday, 29 December 2013

Candy Floss Necklaces are Back!

Yes, at long, long last, I finally have these beauties back in my shop. I couldn't find the materials needed to make them for a very, very long time, so I had to deactivate the listing in April 2012. This is the first time they've returned, and I have enough materials to make them last a very long time now! I'm very happy about it indeed!


https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/78458199/candy-floss-necklace-cotton-candy-pink




Saturday, 28 December 2013

Box of Bloodied Water - Assassin's Creed Black Flag VERY Special Edition

   The specialist of all, in fact, because it's one of a kind.
   I had seen lots of people on 9gag hiding GTAV in lots of marshmallows in September. We'd pre-ordered the game, so Seeg already knew he was getting it, and when, so while it was a nice idea, it couldn't be done. But, I did bank the idea in my brain box!
   Shortly after all this, I remembered Assassin's Creed 4 was coming out at the end of November, but Seeg said he wanted it for the PS4. He didn't expect to get the console until some point in 2014, because it was so expensive. Though I did so well over Christmas with Peaches and Pebbles I knocked the lot of it out at the beginning of November, and I gave it to him for his birthday today. He was most pleased! Unfortunately he isn't the type to show that enthusiasm for anything other than one thing in particular, and that makes it difficult for someone like me who loves giving people gifts and loves seeing their reaction. But I know that he does like it, and he is happy.
   Anyway! I got AC4 for the PS4 after preordering the machine, and it came in some time ago and hid in the wardrobe. And I began to plan my ultra special Box of Bloodied Waters edition of Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag.

   First of all, I got a wooden box. I wanted blood splatters on it, and that was easier said than done. I don't tend to kill people, so I have no idea off of the top of my head what blood splatters typically look like (at least in any realistic way), so I took a bottle of red paint that was almost empty and shot it at the box. It didn't work too well - acrylic paint and blood are not really very similar in terms of thickness. Still, I did my best, and applied darker red paint to some areas.


   Next I painted the inside of the box. I went from blue to black so it was similar to deep waters, but I had the intention to fill it with blue as well when it was all done, so it wouldn't just be that. I think it came out really nicely actually ^^ the blood came out okay, but the only bits I really like are the bits that run down the sides. Still, I did my best!


   Next I made my plaque. I had actually gone around to lots of people on Etsy asking if it would be possible to cut a piece of metal for me, but every one of them turned me away either because it was too big a piece, or they didn't want to do just one. They all suggested I try myself with a jeweller's saw. I did not. Instead I stuck to something I knew: clay. I actually free-hand cut the clay instead of using some kind of stencil, and as always it was a needle I used because I have no tools for clay at all. I was and still am very surprised with how well it came out! It's not perfect; if you look at it portrait ways you can see that the rounded parts come further out on one side than the other, but it's not meant to be looked at that way ^^ from a landscape view it's actually perfectly acceptable and you'd never really notice.
   Another reason I decided to try it with clay was because I had actually been practising the lettering. Initially I had planned to just write 'Box of Bloodied Waters' onto the box itself, but it didn't work very well and I needed to cover it up. I should have expected the bloody ink to bleed. That was entirely my mistake. But I didn't want to have to push my practised lettering to one side, so I engraved it into the clay with a needle. I filled the lettering in with black because I wasn't sure what sort of coverage spray paint would give, but it gives awesome coverage. If anyone is interested - because I know I would be - I used Rust-oleum Metallic Brilliant Finish Chrome. I had read about lots of different paints but none of the silvers were much good. Chrome is brighter and more silver than silver, but it certainly isn't any kind of mirror. If you're looking for a silver spray paint, get chrome.


   I then screwed it down to the lid, and that was that! Then came time to fill it. In truth I had wanted to fill it with blue sweets for water, and a few pockets of red for blood, but I couldn't think of any blue sweets he likes, and any that were red were more like pink. Nuisance! Though my solution was simple enough: use blue and red cellophane bags. I got packs of 30 for £1.50 on Ebay and that did just fine. In the end I used 750g of marshmallows, 500g of Millions, and some gummy dolphins.


   Along with Assassin's Creed 4: Skull Edition, I also added £18 worth of Riot points for League of Legends, and a set of 'Nothing is True/Everything is Permitted' rings I found on Etsy by EriCreations. They look a lot better in person than in the image, and I was really chuffed with the quality to be honest. I could have had the bands in gold, silver and so on, but they were for Seeg so I thought black would be best, and I could have had the lettering coloured too, but I felt that black on black was best given the nature of Assassins :P


   So, I wrapped up the game, painted a little wooden box for the rings to go in (which you can see 2 pictures up), made a little pillow for them and put them in the bottom of the box.
   I used about 300g of marshmallows and 2 blue cellophane bags to create a sort of marshmallow sheet to hide the gifts, then I made 5 red pouches totalling 500g of Millions and put the 450 Riot point cards in them, and made lots of bags of 3 marshmallows so that there'd be lots of 'water' as well. I finished it off with some gummy dolphins as fishies ^^ it was a very heavy box in the end, you really underestimate the weight of marshmallows!


   Then I wrapped it up in brown parcel paper, because I wanted it to stand out from the other gifts and make it look a bit more relevant to the game, which is set in the golden age of Piracy, so around the 1700s, late 1600s I believe. I also added a wax seal I bought some time ago from the amazing Katrina Alana on Etsy to it as well to make it a bit more special.
   He was surprised by it, though he was more interested in the game, but at the end of the day it was just about presentation ^^ I like to put the effort in and had loads of fun doing it.




See also:



Thursday, 26 December 2013

Boxing Day Sale!

   Yes, like many other shops on Etsy, Peaches and Pebbles is having a Boxing Day Sale - it's quite a minor discount, that much is true, but given my currently low stock, I can't afford to knock too much off, as with recent postal delays due to weather and, of course, Christmas, I don't know when my new stock will get to me! What a nuisance!

   Nevertheless, there are 2 options available for you: save either 15% across everything in store with the code BOXING13, or get free worldwide shipping with the code SHIPTOMYLOU - it's entirely up to you!
   This sale will last until the 31st of December, but no purchases will be shipped until the 30th as I'm having the entire Christmas week off and away from trips to the post office. I have a whole Star Trek box set to watch and I intend to finish it before the week is out!
   If you have any questions regarding products, or would like a custom piece such as a custom animal jar, then please do get in touch - my week off doesn't include making products or working with customers! So don't hesitate to drop me a line!

   Now, I've done my promoting; I'm going to go eat so much chocolate that I feel sick. Because that's Christmas ♥


https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/169717067/snow-leopard-jar-necklace-miniature-wild




Monday, 23 December 2013

Disney's 'Frozen'

   I went to see Frozen the other day. I have a few favourite Disney princesses, that's for certain, but I can't say that I wholly enjoy the old Disney princess films. I think it's just nostalgia - I don't like nostalgia. So the new ones appeal to me a little more. I haven't seen many of them. I saw Tangled, and while I enjoyed it I had a few problems with it, though I have to say it wasn't what I expected. I had no idea that the Hero was a thief, not a prince, and I was a little surprised at the...moment of peril, where all seemed lost, because when...something happened (I'm trying not to spoil the film but this is really difficult), the picture became very desaturated and hopeless looking. I thought it was a little heavy.
   I loved Brave, but I had a problem with Merida. Sure, archery's awesome, I've been in love with it since the Lord of the Rings, and I'm not bad at it myself in fact. But I have a problem with her attitude. You can call her headstrong, or you can call her a foolish teenager. I choose the latter. Nevertheless I find the film amazing - very funny, entertaining, the characters are amazing and the setting and music are just awesome. It's a very good film, very good indeed! And a ginger heroine has been long in the waiting. Oh my gosh, her hair was amazingly animated, I was blown away by it, and the Will o' the Wisps were gorgeous, though they were technically incorrect - typically they lead people to their deaths, not grant wishes. If you ever see a glow in a forest, you run the other flipping way.


   But Frozen...I really want to tell you all about it, why I loved it so much, what the twist was, but I can't. Just trust me when I say it was amazing. The characters were fantastic, the two girls, but I do feel that Elsa was irresponsible to a degree. She has too much responsibility to just run away. Even if she did have ridiculously fabulous hair and general style. And the best singing voice I think I've ever heard in or out of Disney films. Or films in general. Just incredible. I can't get 'Let It Go' out of my head. As I said the other day, I've developed a habit of jumping into rooms, turning around dramatically and stating that the "cold never bothered me anyway". There is a twist at the end which I really didn't expect. Usually I can see it all coming, but this is the first Disney film that's made me gasp (as an adult) in surprise. I just didn't see it coming until it actually happened. I had my own suspicions as to what was going to happen at the end of the film, and I was only half right. The other half couldn't have been more incorrect. I also love the reindeer, Sven, he was like a dog. OH, and the song at the beginning, when the men are cutting the ice, I LOVE IT. There are only two Disney soundtracks I'd be interested in owning, and that's Brave, and Frozen.
   Don't mistake it for a Christmas film, either. The only thing that makes it remotely Christmassy is the snow.
   Olaf appeared a bit dubious to me when I saw him in pictures, he reminded me a little too much of a certain Mr Hanky, but he is actually pretty funny, though admittedly more suited for little kids.

   It has everything it needs to be a family film: a silly character that appeals to young audiences (Olaf); music and songs you can sing to which appeal to young kids but also perhaps 12 year olds still dreaming of being a princess; a love story for those among us who are more mushy, and again for 12 year old girls...at the end of the day it's aimed at females, but it's a Disney Princess film, what would you expect?

   But anyway, I do believe that Elsa has become one of my new favourite Disney Princesses, and has also, in fact, very easily shoved Belle off of the top spot, though the little bookworm hasn't slipped far. I love Belle's wit and intelligence, but I love Elsa's voice, beauty and strong heart (to a degree) and attitude. Merida is wonderful because she's also strong hearted (albeit childishly so, but Brave does kind of show you not to behave like that) and a good sister, it's just that she gets on better with her dad than her mum, but her mum was genuinely looking after her best interests, and those of the kingdom, while Merida was just being stubborn.

   Frozen is an amazing film, it's funny, it's sad (it'll make you cry from happiness and sadness), the characters are amazing, there's magic (with "beauty and danger"), and its design and music is wonderful. There's one song I don't like, but at the end of the film, you can think back to it and realise that it wasn't as cheesy as it first seemed because you know more after that. If you're debating it, then stop. Just go and see it.



Saturday, 21 December 2013

This December Past

   All I've really talked about lately is my shop, and please allow me to apologise for that. I've been extremely distracted by Christmas, both by meeting my orders and deadlines, and by preparing for my own Christmas. Yesterday was the last day to ship to the UK for delivery in time for Christmas, and so I can greet my Christmas 'holiday' with open arms. I'm still accepting orders - closing my shop or putting it into vacation mode takes a long time to recover from when I do open up again - but I'm not posting them until the 30th. And I have to say, I am in a very good mood.
   It's been nothing but stress lately, with purchases coming in beyond deadlines but doing my best to ensure that parcels arrive before Christmas, which is pretty hectic when buyers don't reply to messages to pay a little more for the faster delivery they want. But thankfully, most of the parcels have arrived, and those that haven't will soon, or just beyond Christmas, but I can't do much about that - I don't control the postal services afterall.
   I'm full of relief that the Christmas sales are over, but I truly enjoyed it, and I have to say that I have done very well this Christmas, tripling my income and number of sales from last November and December. I'm over the moon, and I've been able to buy everyone the presents I wanted to get them, too. I have one friend who I've not finished buying for, but that's because I have little idea of what to get her. I've got a few little things, but they're not much, and I've done so well that I really want to share that with those I care about, so I need to get her something good! And despite the fact that I know what she likes, as it's all so obscure and specific, nothing's jumping out at me! So, sadly, she won't have her gift in time for Christmas :( but it's important to remember, of course, that just because a gift might be late, doesn't mean it won't be appreciated when it is received. I think, on some level, it'll be appreciated more if it's late, because they won't have been bombarded with other gifts, both better and worse, in that same day. Though that doesn't mean I'm going to purposely hold onto all of my gifts and not give them out until the 27th, that would just be silly.

   So I've been quite busy fulfilling orders. I had one delightful purchase from someone who wanted to commission a special jar necklace featuring his girlfriend's pets. I really enjoyed making it and think it came out really well. I do have a picture of it but his girlfriend is aware of my shop and may be aware of my blog also, and I don't want to risk ruining the gift! So it'll have to wait until after Christmas. Though I took a good personal interest in the item, too ^^ the animals in question are close to my heart.

   I've got a few new animal jars in the making - some have been in existance for some time, but either I can't figure out how to make the jars work with the animal, or I haven't managed to find the right bedding for the creature in the jar, which is a nuisance, because one animal jar in particular has been waiting for about 4 or 5 months to have appropriate bedding, but I just can't work it out!

   I've taken part in Papered Thoughts' letter writing challenge, and the first task of the two was to create and send 'New Year's Eve in an envelope' - I made mine up and posted it out on the deadline (I would usually have had it out of the door much sooner but I was preoccupied with orders), and I received my own from my assigned partner over at DragonflyFortress a few days ago. I've given it a poke but the envelope is instructing me not to open until midnight on the 1st of January so I suppose I have to wait! :P
   I've also taken part in a Christmas gift swap on High Walls, though I've not received my partner's package yet. Taking part in things like this is something I've wanted to do for some time but either could never afford it, or found out about it too late to sign up, so this year I made sure to sign up as soon as I found out about them.

   So I've been kept very busy these past two months, which is why NaBloPoMo ended up failing towards the end, and why I've not said much this month that didn't revolve around my shop. I saw Frozen a few days ago and was shocked by it. It was such a good film, so pretty, the ladies were brilliant, and, my god, the end had a very unexpected twist. I loved it, and felt that at least one of the morals of the story should be taught to a lot of adults these days. If you've seen it you may well understand which moral I mean. The music - I have to say, I get a little uncomfortable when people start singing in Disney films, even if I expect it, but I swear, I can't get Let It Go out of my head. I've developed a habit of jumping into rooms, turned 180 degrees and stating "the cold never bothered me anyway".
   Honestly, if you're debating seeing it, just go and see it. I'm not big on sing song Disney films, it feels more suitable for younger children, but I can still appreciate the rest of the films, and this one blows the rest out of the water. I loved Brave, it was the best one for a long time, but this one very nearly throws that one aside. And the only three things that are stopping it from pushing Brave out of my head is the Celtic (is it Celtic if it's Scottish?) design, the humour, and the music. But Frozen is a close second.

   So, yes, that's me this Christmas. I'll blog more frequently now, I expect, and I still have a few things in mind to make for the blog, both tutorials and ideas, and a few product reviews as well, and I won't talk about my shop so much :P Promise! How is everyone else?



Friday, 20 December 2013

Last Call for UK Orders!

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/PeachesandPebbles


Purchase by 2pm today for UK Christmas delivery! All purchase shipped first class. Provided Royal Mail does their job right, today is the last day for UK Christmas delivery.
All purchases made from the 21st onwards will be shipped on the 30th of December.



Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Christmas Centre Pieces With Baubles

   Baubles are great. I love them. When Seeg and I were in the Netherlands last year for Sinterklaas with his family (and so he could have a tooth out - not the best trip ever) we went into a shop and I happened to see a big square box filled with 2cm multi-coloured baubles. I loved them. But, we couldn't buy them because there was no guarantee that they'd survive the trip back to England. I was very regretful so that evening I hopped on my little laptop I'd brought with me so that I could continue my writing while we were away (I managed one and a half lines that week) and just had a look to see if I could find anything similar online. I really wasn't expecting much but I found more or less the exact same item from Paperchase. I never found it anywhere else. So I ended up looking through their website to see if there was anything else I could find, and I had a field day. I placed an order with them and it was there waiting for me when we got back to Bristol. I ended up buying the bix square box of 100 baubles that I'd seen in the shop in Arnhem, and I also bought two smaller boxes of 25 of the same sized baubles in specific colour schemes,  some glittery deer and other things that I really can't remember now. I loved shopping on there so much that I decided I'd do the same this year, and I was really looking forward to it!

   This year, they had similar things to last year - glittery stags and deer were still about, but in different colours this time, and there were more boxes of 100 and 25 baubles. There is plenty of other stuff, of course, but...I couldn't help buying another box of 100 and two more boxes of 25. I have no idea why, it's not like I can hang them all up! Though I can try!! To be honest, I think it's the arrangement and packaging that really draws me in, and the size of the baubles. I see so many round bits of colour at Christmas and I just get excited. It can't be helped.

   My point is, baubles are great. And because I have so many (I bought a rather useless box of about 25 large baubles in Hobby Craft the other day because they were £5 and were red and white) baubles that I just can't do anything with, I thought I'd try to find other decorational uses for them besides hanging them on the tree. So far I've shown you how to make bauble place card holders which can still be reverted back to ordinary baubles, and now I'm going to make some suggestions for centre pieces. Sadly I can't photograph them in any fancy setting so you'll just have to use your imagination. So I apologise in advance for the not-so-scene-setting pictures.

   I don't know about you, but I have a couple of nice glass things around the house, and my favourite is my lemonade pitcher. I bought it in the summer and it's sat dormant for a few months now and is collecting dust, so I decided that that could be an interesting subject for a centre piece if filled with baubles. Goldfish bowls without goldfish would work nicely, too, as would nicely shaped glass vases.


   LED lights don't get hot. If you have battery-powered LED lights you can add them to the arrangement, or if you're willing to drill a hole in the glass you could have mains operated lights neatly included.


   Get some thin crafting wire, loop it through the loop on top of the baubles and pierce it into a polystyrene ball/half-sphere until it's totall covered and place it ontop of a cakestand.

   Get some wine glasses, fill them with small baubles, place something like a coaster on top of the opening and turn it upside down. Once the glass is upside down on the table, slide the coaster away. The baubles should still be well and truly in the glass, and the glass now upside down. Get a nice thick, tall candle and set it on top of the bottom of the glass like a pedestal. Set it alight and tip it a bit so that the melted wax drips onto the glass, then press the candle into it. The wax dries and hardens fast so you'll want a few drops, not just one, and it'll help to fix the candle in place so it's not as likely to fall over when lit at dinner. Alternatively, you could simply set a tealight on the bottom of the glass instead and find a way to fix it down.


   If you're willing to sacrifice a platter/plate cover and some baubles, you could hot glue some baubles over the lid that would cover a plate or platter once it's on the table to keep the food warm and covered. It would add a gorgeous splash of colour over the Christmas turkey.




Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Last Orders and Current December Promotions

   Well, Christmas is just a week away now, and with just six more delivery days to go, you have until (and including) Friday to get your Christmas orders in. I won't be heading to the post office again after the 20th - though I may admittedly make an exception or two and take a quick trip up on Saturday morning to post some stragglers, though Royal Mail can't guarantee those. Otherwise, I won't be posting again until the 30th, assuming the post office will be open then.

   There are also only 7 fox jars left. I doubt I'll get my hands on any new jars before Christmas so the number available on the listing is literally all I have for now. So if you want one, get in quick!

   Alternatively, I can make custom animals - not any animal, mind you, but feel free to get in touch and I can see what I can do. These will need to be commissioned (meaning talked about, agreed upon and payed for) within the next 24 hours for them to reach you by Christmas.


Christmas/December Promotions

   Win Your Shopping On Me competition - this promotion is still in full swing! A quarter of the purchases that are made in my shop between the 10th and 24th of December will be refunded fully - the winners will be chosen at random, and the full number of winners will depend on the full number of orders, so that 1 in 4 will win! All you have to do to win your entire purchase for free is to purchase from my shop between the 10th and 24th of December - it's that easy! And it doesn't matter where the order will be shipped to, or how much or little you buy - every transaction is entered. Winners will be notified on the 26th and subsequently refunded.

   Free Gifts With All December Purchases - does as it says on the tin.

   One Of The Next 5 Orders Will Get a VERY Special Free Gift - one of the next five orders received will get a very special and exclusive free gift I've made just for Christmas. It's a secret, though, so only the winner will know what it is, and it will be up to them whether or not they share it on twitter, their blog and so on. It's the season of giving and I'm going all out this year!


http://www.etsy.com/shop/peachesandpebbles



Friday, 13 December 2013

DIY Bauble Place Card Holder

   CHRISTMAS!!
   *ahem*
   Yes, Christmas. It's almost here! I've been so busy with sales lately that I've not really had the chance to think about Christmas crafts and DIY for the blog, but I've tried to take the time out lately to give it some thought. So far I have two. It's not much, but it's something, right?

   My family don't have big gatherings at Christmas, and we don't really sit around the table. My family is quite distant from eachother, and with my mum's condition it's not easy for us to just sit around a table, so we tend to eat at two tables in the livingroom. I'd love to have a dinner around a table with place cards and all that, but I am also very aware of how socially awkward I am, and that whenever I eat around a table with anyone else - friends, family, Seeg's family and so on - I am so insanely uncomfortable that I can't really enjoy it.
   But that doesn't mean I can't plan ahead for the future, so I started playing around with place cards. When I was younger I used to make place cards for dinner eventhough we all sat in the same places (back then we were around a table and my mum wasn't in a wheelchair) as we did every other day for dinner, but I felt that it was a part of the whole experience. I still sort of believe that.
   I used to make place card holders out of old baubles, too, I used to glue the name cards to the tops of them, and they'd face straight up. Having grown up a little I found a better way to use baubles for place card holders without glueing anything to them - in fact they remain as fully functional baubles after dinner.


You Will Need:
Baubles
Rubber O rings (craft stores, DIY stores and alternative jewellery stores)
Split ring


   Take your bauble and a split ring. Open the split ring so that you can have the ring of the bauble, or the part that string would be threaded through, between the two sides of the split ring as shown. This will act as the actual card holder.


   Take the O ring and place the bauble on top of it. I was using about 5-6cm baubles and a 10mm O ring. I could have done with one a bit larger really, about 15-20mm, but it's all good in the end. The O ring willl stop the bauble from rolling away into someone else's seat. Three people can't sit on one seat.

   If you bought the baubles specifically for this purpose and want to reuse them as place holders again, you could always put a layer of Mod Podge or PVA glue - something that dries clear - over the top of the O ring and place the bauble on top, and they'll be fixed together once it's dry.

   This is a great way to reuse old baubles that have been replaced by newer ones over the years - I can't help buying new decorations each year, so each year, the decorations I bought in the past get put away or hung up elsewhere. This is a good way to reuse them.


   Be aware: use plastic or shatterproof baubles if you're not going to glue it to the O ring (the bigger the bauble, the bigger the O ring), because it can still roll off of the O ring and subsequently smash.



Wednesday, 11 December 2013

How To Make a Mini Marshmallow Topiary

   I'm quite proud of my Chocolate Topiary Tree I made last year. It turned out quite well - it looked good, and was quite successful with family visits. I decided to make another this year, but I also decided to revisit the idea and try something else on a smaller scale when I thought about my nearly 4 year old nephew. Obviously, Lindt Lindor and Ferrero Rocher aren't really the go-to confectionary for little kiddies, so I started thinking about gummy bears, marshmallows and smarties. But how on earth could you fix those kinds of small sweets onto a polystyrene ball? Cocktail sticks wouldn't work, especially with smarties, and you can hardly glue them down, can you?

   ...Or, can you?
   Yes. Yes you can. Afterall, Royal Icing is quite strong and thick stuff. And totally edible.

   You can have these finished in three ways: they can be hanging from the ceiling - I like to picture lots of small balls of marshmallows hung from the ceiling in a pretty pastel party - they can be popped onto a small flower pot like a little round bush - you can buy small ceramic pots in a lot of garden centres and craft shops, as well as small enamelled buckets - or you can have them on a stick in a pot like a little round tree.



You will need:
A polystyrene ball
A pot if you're making a bush or a tree
A stick if you're making a tree
A sandwich bag or plastic kitchen wrap, but not cling film/saran wrap as it's a bit too thin
Royal Icing
Your chosen confectionary.

1. Take your polystyrene ball. Be aware when purchasing that the ball will appear bigger when finished as the sweets you use will add to the weight and size of the ball. Cover the ball in the kitchen plastic. It should be thick enough that it won't rip or stretch with little force like clingfilm does. If you're making a bush, you can just tie the end of the plastic off with an elastic band. If you're making a tree, you'll have to tie it off around the stick with some string, so it's best to use something pretty like appropriately coloured baker's twine. If you're making a hanging ball then the tied off end will have to be tidied up and made as neat and as small as possible, and will be on the top of the ball rather than the bottom like the other two. This end is also what you'll use a needle and thread to make the hanging loop with. There's no need to permanently fix the plastic to the ball, as removing the plastic when the topiary's lost its 'leaves' is as effective as washing it, and putting new plastic over it will make it safe for a new topiary later on.


2. If you're making a topiary tree, you'll need to make a hole in the bottom of the ball before adding the bag, and, using hot glue, fix your stick into the ball. Using more hot glue, or, if the topiary's much bigger than the ones I've made and is more like my chocolate one, you might want some air-dry clay to fill the pot once you've put the other end of the stick in it.

3. Now open your sweets - don't eat too many - and mix up your royal icing. You'll want the icing to be thick because it's going to be the glue, and if it's too runny it'll result in a not-so-neat finish. When you've mixed up your icing - and it's important to mix it every few minutes to keep it from stiffening too much - add a small dab with the handle of a spoon to the back of each sweet and press them onto the plastic-covered ball. The heavier the sweet, however, the thicker the icing you'll need, and you'll need a little more of it. Adding a small dab means that if the icing pulls away from the plastic with the sweets, the taste and texture of the icing won't be as noticable, and also means that it will dry quicker. Make sure you also only add the icing to the next sweet once the first sweet is fixed down. Adding icing to them all and then sticking them down will cause the icing to harden on the back of the sweets before you get any kind of chance to put them all in place.


   Then you just need to let it set. It's that easy.
   The plastic keeps the sweets from sticking to the polystyrene, and then pulling that awful stuff with it, and also makes it re-usable if you replace the bag, which also keeps you from having to throw out the polystyrene.
   The Royal Icing keeps the sweets in place and also acts as a fully edible glue, and, if you've used gummy sweets, they might well pull away from the icing rather than pull the icing from the plastic.
   And using thicker plastic bags will keep the plastic from stretching or ripping away from the rest of the bag with the icing if the icing pulls away instead. For this reason, it's a good idea to use only a small amount of Royal Icing.


   I made mine with mini marshmallows, but found that smarties didn't work too well for me because I was impatient and didn't mix the icing thick enough.
   These sweet topiaries are brilliant for kids at Christmas or birthday parties and can act as confectionary and as decorations.



This Is How I Know It's Christmas

   Every year, since as long as I can remember, a float has come down our road, belting out Christmas songs at full volume. It's usually around 7pm, and there are people following it with collection pots for charities. When I was little it was SO exciting because I'd never seen anything like it. Every year, even now, and I'm 22 years old, I still look forward to the float. Admittedly, being older, the magic has somewhat left Christmas a bit, and the float looks more and more rubbish every year, but my parents assure me it's always looked like that. A long trailer towed behind a tractor with Father Christmas waving from his sleigh. There used to be elves - or people dressed as them, rather - but they don't seem to be there anymore.
   And then, one evening every December, I hear the music - it's usually Wham when it reaches us, but it was John Lennon this time, which I prefer - and I rush to the window. Yes, I am 22, and I rush to the window to watch this terrible thing pass by. Though I get to see it twice since we live in a cul-de-sac - honestly, why do they bring it down our road?! Fortunately they don't try to turn around at the bottom, they just reverse slowly back up and turn around in our driveway. I always get so excited! I envy the neighbours' children, they're 3 and...baby. Obviously the three year old was so excited, and ran out of the house with his dad to watch it. I used to be like that. I think I'd feel a bit silly if I did that now, so I stay where it's warm pop up underneath the curtain.
   But it's this float that heralds Christmas. When this thing comes trundling by, I turn into a 7 year old again. And it passed by last night.





Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Win Your Christmas Shopping on Me!

http://www.etsy.com/shop/peachesandpebbles

   It's almost Christmas, and I hit 200 sales the other day - I'm feeling quite festive and in quite the gift-giving mood, so I decided that, to celebrate, rather than host or sponsor a giveaway, I'd try something new and take a leaf out of Paperchase's book: offer shopping on me - winners, at random, will have their purchase with me fully refunded. The idea is simple: all purchases from Peaches and Pebbles placed between the 10th to the 24th of December will be entered into a draw, and on the 26th, 25% of those sales (meaning if 4 purchases were made, there would be 1 winner; 8 purchases made there would be 2 winners and so on) will be refunded through their chosen payment methods (paypal or direct checkout) and the customers contacted with a congratulatory message.

   You don't have to do anything to enter except purchase something. Every purchase is eligible to win, regardless of order size or shipping destination. Please note, though, that if you don't win, I won't be refunding you because you "only purchased because you expected to win", so please purchase responsibly. If you don't hear from me by the 27th of December, then, unfortunately, you have not won. This is something that I am likely to try again in the future at other milestones - 250 sales, 300 and so on. This is quite a different and exciting competition, I think, so I hope it will go well! Not only that, but the more people who purchase, the greater the number of winners.


TERMS:
Winners will be chosen at random using an automatic number randomiser which will number all orders received from '1' to however many were placed during the promotion period (10th-24th December 2013). Winners will be drawn, contacted and refunded on December 26th. If you have not been contacted by December 27th, you have not won. Please purchase responsibly. The number of winners will be determined by the number of sales received during the promotion period; 25% of total orders received during the promotion period will be the number of winners. If there were 16 orders placed, then there would be 4 winners. If there are an odd number of entries, the 25% will be rounded up - ie if there are 5 entries, there will be 2 winners, not 1). Winners will be refunded via the method they chose when purchasing. Winners will be refunded only what they have payed; discount codes that were used during the purchase will be kept in mind while being refunded (ie if a 25% off code was used at checkout, they will be refunded the full amount they payed for a product, ie '£15', not the '£20' retail price).
Terms are subject to change if the number of orders received is far higher than expected. There will be no more than 15 winners. If there are more than 60 entries, which is unlikely, the number of winners will rise no higher than 15. Good luck to all participants!



Sunday, 8 December 2013

3 Sold Items To Go!

   Yes, I am just 3 sold items away from 200! And whoever buys the 200th piece will get a few extra free gifts! Yes, plural! I have 197 sales at the moment (and that's items sold, not transactions), and if someone were to add three items to their basket and buy them right now, they'd count as the 200th, so you get the idea.
   I haven't decided what all of the free gifts will be, though at least one of them will be another product available to purchase in my shop, so it's well worth getting your purse open right now!
   I've added lots of new animals to my shop recently, so there is plenty to choose from! Some of them are shown below:


   I am open for custom requests, but be aware that if you want a piece made in time for Christmas that you'd better ask in the next day or two to ensure that I can do it. If you have any suggestions or ideas, do let me know!



Saturday, 7 December 2013

Small Business Saturday

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/PeachesandPebbles


   It's that time again, and this year the UK has their own Small Business Saturday event, which is today. Don't fret, however - whether you're in the UK or not, you can take advantage of the sales happening across the day in loads of different shops.
   Also, the deadline date for international Christmas purchases from my shop is Wednesday 11th/Thursday 12th, so get in quickly if you're outside of the UK and looking for gifts!
   Also, there's a free gift with every purchase in December, regardless of size! So there's a little extra for you while you're buying for other people!

   Save 20% TODAY ONLY when you apply this code at checkout: SHPSML2013 - remember, today only. This is the last sale that will be running before Christmas, and the purchasing deadlines are racing towards us. To see the deadline dates, check the shop info box beneath my shop's banner.



Friday, 6 December 2013

Tiny Christmas Stocking Favours

   Make these tiny stockings as favours for your Christmas dinner. Personally I find Christmas crackers to be disappointing these days, unless you make them yourself. They always feature the same things and frighten any dogs that might be waiting eagerly beside your seat for scraps. These stockings are far cuter, and just as festive. They're so easy to make, too! You just need some faux fur - I used scraps from my limited edition Christmas monster plushies - and some nice fabric - yet again, I used scraps from my monsters. Once you've got that all you need is something to fill it with. I particularly love the tiny boxes of Lindt Lindor, and the tiny boxes of Celebrations you can get around this time of the year. They're not as good as the big ones - nothing beats the big ones - but they give exactly the right amount for this situation.


   Draw a stocking shape on the back of your chosen fabric, then fold it over and stitch along the lines, leaving the top open. Cut around it and you should have an inside out sock. Turn it the right away out.
   Then take a strip of faux fur trim or fabric scraps that wrap around the top of the stocking once with a little left over. Your stocking will be the right way out, but your fur won't be. Turn the fur upside down so that the back of the fabric is facing out, then wrap it around the top of the stocking and sew the top edge down. When you get to the end of the fabric, stitch the two end pieces together, then flip the fur over so that it's added height to the stocking, and the fur is facing outwards.



   All you need to do then is fill the stockings with the desired contents and lay them on the table with the place cards. Things don't have to be difficult to make an impression. Alternatively you could put the knives and forks in them for dinner.



Tuesday, 3 December 2013

How To Start Getting In Shape - Tips for UnMotivated People

   This article isn't here for people who just want to lose a few pounds. This is for people who need to lose a few stone, and are overthinking the idea of weightloss. I'm going to go over basic things that can really help you get on the horse, and can really help you stay on it. I've also explained what a plateau is - because you will hit them - and how to overcome it. It's really very simple, but the main things to remember are that you need to let this stuff work, that you can't expect immediate results, and that there are no quick fixes - supplements and pills, they don't work, and in most cases they're proven to cause severe personality disorders and sometimes minor states of insanity. Yes, insanity. The only true way to lose weight is to eat right (note: that does not mean 'totally cut out everything you like for good') and keep active (and that does not mean 'workout 2 hours every single day).


Beginning: Frame of Mind
   First of all, don't think of weightloss as a way to slim down, think of it as a way to get healthier. If you think of it as a way to slim down, you're far more likely to trick yourself into thinking that you're fine as you are, and the truth is, if you weigh 16 stone or 225 pounds, you're not healthy. And I can't imagine that you can sleep comfortably knowing that your weight could very easily affect your lifespan.

   The very first thing you have to have is motivation. Now I'll say this from the start: don't look to other people for motivation. Don't try to get theme excited for you, and don't rely on their support. If they start to lose interest, and they will if that's all you focus your attention on for even just a week, you'll find it hard to keep going because no one will want to listen to you. Instead, look to yourself for motivation. Look at yourself shirtless in front of the mirror. This will drive some people crazy but it will force you to look at yourself, and I mean really look. Now take a picture. This is where you start. There's no need to hang it up anywhere or anything like that, hide it on a memory stick or somewhere on your computer. This is just for you.


Start Off: Food, Not Exercise
   Now you need to work on your diet, and by diet, I don't mean non-fat, non-carb, 0 calories. I simply mean what you're eating. Forget exercise for now. The reason for this is because you simply won't have the energy or the motivation to start working out if you're not eating right. So cut down on the yummy things that are harming your waistline and substitute them for healthier things. Eat less red meat and more white meat. Chicken is delicious - just don't deep fry it. Keep away from anything that comes in a bucket. Drink some green tea - it tasted foul to me at first but I came to love it after a week - but keep away from energy drinks. These things are completely useless unless you're already running a marathon, and technically, water is still a better choice in situations like that.
   Drink lots of water. If you aren't hydrated your body will turn to your liver for water and it just can't do it. This will also keep you from losing weight.
   You don't have to completely cut out the things you love, but you should have them in moderation. For example, I'd eat a full 150g chocolate bar in 5 minutes without thinking about it. Nowadays a 150g bar will last me a couple of days because I eat something like two rows of chocolate in a sitting and then put it away. Don't cut out what you love, just cut down on it, because otherwise, if you have a 'small taste' of it in a few weeks as a reward, there's a very good chance you'll eat a lot of it. If you eat small amounts, but every few days, you're less likely to binge.
   What I've also found helps is keeping yummy things like biscuits, chocolate bars, crisps and so on out of sight. I am more likely to eat this stuff while playing a game or watching TV, so I keep the stuff away from any television set. If it's not in reach, I'm not likely to eat it. I hide it in my wardrobe and a chocolate bar tends to stay in there for a week - once I ended up with one in there for a month - before I touch it.

   To sum up: cut down on the good stuff, eat more of the sensible stuff, keep away from buckets of food, and keep hydrated. Buy some smaller plates, too - this can help smaller portions look just as big as they used to, or make the same portions look too much. This psychology also helps people lose weight, so swap out your plates! And take smaller bites, chew really well and slow yourself down.
   Make a note: it's possible that just this will help you to lose the first few pounds, but be aware: everyone is different. You will find some people lose loads of weight from dieting and barely exercising, while others, like myself, see very little results from dieting, but lose far more from exercise. Don't expect to see results right away.


Second: Start Working Out Without Leaving Home
   Don't be put off by this. Start small, and start at home. A lot of people make new year's resolutions to do an hour of exercise every day. And do you know something? A very high percentage of these people fail within the first two weeks. Why? Because going from nothing to an hour a day is ridiculous.
   Here are some facts: your body needs to rest. You shouldn't exercise every day. If you do, your body will hold onto weight and you won't perform as well the next day either. Instead, you should exercise every other day, resting the days in between. I'll tell you a story. My boyfriend bought me a Wii for my birthday a few years ago because I wanted it to help me lose weight. We go Wii Fit Plus, and it told me to weigh myself with it every day. Big mistake. I never saw any difference because it would keep going up and down. Weight can fluctuate by up to 5lbs in a single day. Yikes. So instead I started weighing myself every Monday and Friday, and exercising those days and all between, except Saturday and Sunday. My thought was that I would be able to see the pounds drop off on Friday's weighing. Um, wrong. I was heavier by two pounds on Friday. This really did a number on my confidence in my exercise, but I managed to pick myself up and work up the courage to weigh myself on Monday, after two days of no exercise - I'd lost 4 pounds? What? Amazing! I worked out the rest of the week and weighed myself Friday. I gained 2 pounds again?! Rested over the weekend, came back monday, and 4 pounds had dropped off. I kept an eye on this and over the course of two months found that, after a week of exercise, I gained 2 pounds at the end of each week, but after resting and coming back Monday morning, I'd lost 4. So, over the course of a week's exercise I had lost 2 pounds each week, which adds up. I learned then that it's a bad idea to weigh yourself if you've exercised recently, and so I only do it after a full rest day.

   You could go to a gym - they have equipment, trainers and so on, but they also have other people, and if your motivation is thin to start with, you're not going to want people watching you and judging you. It's important to note that it's not likely that people will - you're not as important to starngers as you think when you're being paranoid, and even if they did make fun of you, you're at a gym doing something about it, so there really is no need to make fun or judge. If anything, you deserve a pat on the back.
   But either way, I'd say start at home with something simple. Try a 10 Minute Solutions DVD, or simply pick up some weights. You never have to go to a gym if you don't want to. 10 Minute Solutions DVDs are made up of 5 different 10 minute workouts and come in loads of different types of workouts. I usually buy the dance ones, but I did pick up the kickbox bootcamp and I love it. They only cost about £5, ad £5 for that much interchangable workouts is great.
   Pick up some weights and look at some fitness magazine websites. They usually give loads and loads of different and actually 100% effective workouts to do using weights - and don't be put off just because there may be women performing the moves. Men and women have very similar bodies - we're all human afterall - and they'll be just as effective for men. Similarly, there are magazines that come out each month with similar routines - in the UK these are Women's Fitness and Men's Fitness, each magazine tailored to their readers and all of which feature about 9 pages per issue of different workouts that can be done with minimal equipment, usually exclusively dumbells.
   Start by aiming for about 25 minutes a day, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, or whichever three days a week you have time, while being able to rest for a day in between. Also be sure to weigh yourself first thing in the morning on whatever day you wish to weigh yourself, but don't rely exclusively on the scales. On whatever day you weigh yourself, also measure your waist. If you're using weights rather than doing cardio, the inches will fall off faster than the pounds, so it's important to keep an eye on both readings.

Continuing: What's a Plateau and How To Beat It
   A plateau is a stage in workouts that happens every 4-6 weeks where weightloss will slow down or stop altogether. It is a real pain and it can really knock you off the horse when progress slows down or just stops showing. There is, however, an easy way to beat this: change.
   Try changing your diet, perhaps a bigger breakfast and smaller lunch, perhaps a few more calories in a day, or a few less. Eat things that are good for losing weight like seeds, almonds and brown rice. Add more veg or get rid of red meat for a while.
   Alternative, or just the same, change your workout. For example if you usually do three sets of bicep curls, three sets of jumping jacks, three sets of kettlebell lifts and three sets of pushups, try rearranging that routine, and perhaps add or replace one of the sections with a different workout. Or if you're using a DVD, it might be time to get a new one - don't be daunted by this, there are loads out there.
   Plateaus are caused by your body falling into a routine, and being able to predict the movements you're about to make, making them less effective. Even if you keep the same exercises but rearrange them, it'll help bust through plateaus. This is the very reason I subscribed to Women's Fitness: because it gives 9 pages (with about 3 workouts on each page) of new workouts every month - ie every 4.5 weeks - and by adopting them into my routine and swapping older movements out, I constantly keep my workout fresh and my body doesn't get the chance to get used to it.


Time Goes By...
   Time does go by, and as long as you can keep your motivation you will be fine. But I'll also say this: I've been trying to get fit for about 8 years, and it never worked for me because I never had the motivation. It wasn't until I got the Wii (and subsequently £300 had been spent to help me get into working out frequently) and decided that I finally couldn't stand my body any more than I decided I needed to change it. It was hard to begin with, and I'd think of any excuse I could to skip exercising, but I knew deep down that if I did that I'd never get anywhere. So I kept at it. I've lost a lot of weight now, and 3 years on from getting that Wii, I've exercised almost every week since, and now it just feels plain wrong not to workout. Sure I slip up sometimes and end up having a whole week off at certain points in the year, but I plow through even illnesses because it's important to me. It's more about health to me now than looks, and 35 minutes of dance and spinning every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning, 35 minutes of interval training (run 1 minute, walk/jog 2 minutes, run 1 minute, walk/jog 2 minutes etc) every Tuesday and Thursday morning, and 30 minutes of weights every Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening (all of which takes place at home with just some DVDs, a random TV channel - usually Dave - and some 2-3kg dumbells) is part of my weekly routine and doesn't even get thought about anymore, it just gets done. I take Saturdays and Sundays off to fully rest and weigh and measure myself each Monday morning, and I keep note of those measurements, and each day's exercise duration in a weekly planner so I can see my progress, where I've made mistakes, and where I've evidently struck gold.

   It seems like it's difficult to start all this stuff off, and when you begin it and start thinking you'll have to do it for a long time it seems really daunting, but before too long, even within 2 weeks trust me, you will:
  • See some results
  • Feel far more confident
  • Feel very good about yourself
  • Feel more motivated to do other things
  • Feel happier
  •  Get so used to it that you won't consider it a chore anymore.
Admittedly that last one might take more like a month or so, but the rest really will happen quickly, you just have to stick with it and let it happen, because it will.